TOKYO (AP) — Global shares were mostly higher on Wednesday, ahead of a closely watched speech by the Federal Reserve chief that may give clues about future interest rate hikes.
Investors were also eyeing developments in China, where protests have erupted over the “zero-COVID” strategy that has confined millions of people to their homes, sometimes for months.
France’s CAC 40 added 0.6% in early trading to 6,707.52, while Germany’s DAX gained 0.7% to 14,454.72. Britain’s FTSE 100 advanced nearly 0.4% at 7,536.51. The future for the S&P 500 was up 0.2% while that for the Dow industrials gained 0.1%.
China has eased some controls after demonstrations in at least eight mainland cities and Hong Kong. It’s unclear if protests will start up again after authorities detained an unknown number of people and stepped up surveillance.
Renewed restrictions on businesses and other activity have hit manufacturing, with an official survey announced Wednesday showing the purchasing managers index falling to 48.0 in November from 49.2 the month before. The index is on a scale of 0 to 100 where readings 50 and above show expansion.
“A further fall in the new orders and new export orders indices suggests this was largely driven by weakening domestic and foreign demand,” Capital Economics said in a report. “Todays surveys suggest that intensified virus disruption has delivered another blow to the economy this month.”
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 0.2% to finish at 27,968.99 after reports said industrial production contracted 2.6% in October, compared with 1.7% in September, amid weakening demand from China and other world markets.
But other regional markets advanced.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 2.1% to 18,584.49. The Shanghai Composite index inched up less than 0.1% to 3,151.34. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.4% to 7,284.20, while South Korea’s Kospi rose 1.6% to 2,472.53.
“Due to a more reflective approach to the recent zero-COVID measures, Chinese stocks have taken substantial leaps and bounds this week. However, that optimism is giving way to hawkish contemplation as traders twiddle their thumbs awaiting a speech from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell later Wednesday,” Stephen Innes, a managing partner at SPI Asset Management, said in a report.
Investors have been hoping that the Fed will slow the scale and pace of its interest rate hikes and are closely watching the latest data on inflation, consumer spending and the employment market. They’ll be looking for any signs of a shift in policy when Powell speaks at the Brookings Institution about the outlook for the U.S. economy and the labor market on Wednesday.
The Fed’s benchmark rate currently stands at 3.75% to 4%, up from close to zero in March.
The U.S. government will be releasing several reports about the labor market this week. A report about job openings and labor turnover for October will be released Wednesday, followed by a weekly unemployment claims report Thursday. The closely watched monthly report on the job market will be released on Friday.
In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude gained 49 cents to $78.69 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, added 70 cents to $83.70 a barrel.
In currency trading, the U.S. dollar rose to 138.76 Japanese yen from 138.65 yen. The euro cost $1.0346, up from $1.0331.
Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama
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